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marketing benefits of blogging, blog value for PRBlogging was once a leading PR and marketing strategy. Businesses viewed blogs as an exciting and innovative marketing tool. Corporate and brand blogs were a go-to place where consumers could find well-researched, trustworthy, and thoughtfully-presented information on a full range of business topics. Blog comment sections were the center of community discussions. Good blog content ranked high in search engine results.

These days, most consumers dedicate more time to social media. Blogs typically attract few legitimate comments. Many blogs stopped accepting comments, due to the deluge of spam and the paucity of meaningful input. As brands post content on social media and pursue leading influencers, they may wonder if blogging has become passé.

PR and marketing pros and their clients may rightly ask: Should we curtail blogging in favor of social media? Should PR and marketing agencies bother starting blogs for their clients? The answer is that blogging continues to provide significant PR and marketing benefits. Here they are:

Drive website traffic through SEO. Blogs offer a powerful tool to drive organic search traffic to your website. Fresh, high quality content filled with your keywords helps websites rank higher in organic search engine results of Google and Bing. It also encourages other sites to link to the blog, thus improving search rankings. Customers who enter a business’s name into a search query already know about the company. Businesses can find new customers when people find their blog content after entering their non-brand keywords.

Improve credibility and reputation. Customers appreciate real expertise – and a blog offers a near-perfect venue to demonstrate the company’s knowledge of the industry and concern for the customer. Well-crafted content that aims to educate consumers and make them more savvy earns points from customers and improves the company’s reputation. Blog content that reveals corporate social responsibility also earns customer good will.

Collect leads to drive sales. After driving organic search traffic, blogs can usher visitors through the sales funnel and collect sales leads. Blog pages encourage visitors to provide contact information to receive free offers such as ebooks, whitepapers, fact sheets or free trials. Of course, most visitors won’t complete forms. “That’s okay,” writes Corey Wainwright for HubSpot. “Just get blogging, put calls-to-action on every blog post, set a visitor-to-lead conversion rate benchmark for yourself, and strive to improve that each month.”

Boost social media marketing. A steady flow of blog posts provides helpful, relevant content to post on social media. Links to the posts on social media encourage followers to visit your website where they can learn more about the organization and enter its sales funnel. Instead of asking your social media manager to come up with original social media posts, turn your blog into a repository of content, Wainwright advises.

Recruit personnel.  By raising the company’s online visibility, blogs help potential employees learn about the organization. “Since we’ve upgraded our blog, we’ve noticed a measurable increase in the quantity and quality of unsolicited resumes from new and recent communications graduates,” says Dorothy Crenshaw of Crenshaw Communications.

Communicate directly to customers. A blog offers a business an ideal venue to explain its products, answer common customer questions, explain how industry trends may impact its products, and update customers on company news. That news could be good or bad, writes content strategist Iniobong Eyo for Duct Tape Marketing. For instance, when Buffer was hacked, it posted the news on its blog and continued posting updates – 10 in all – as it investigated and resolved the breach. Such transparency earns trust.

Control your content. Blogs allow the brand to control the narrative, unlike press releases and media interviews. Blogs also let organizations control the length and future use of the content, unlike social media platforms that impose length limits and can change their content policies, or even disappear entirely. In other words, brands can build their PR and marketing on their own property rather than taking the risk of building their PR and marketing on rented digital land

Establish thought leadership. Blogs are instrumental in establishing commentators as authorities in their field. They do that by answering common questions from their leads and customers and consistently creating content that’s helpful for their target customer. The brand’s sales staff can point prospects to the thought leadership content “Guiding the conversation and demonstrating expertise about your product and industry will make you a trusted, go-to source, and customers need to trust the companies they do business with,” says Lisa Goldsberry at Axia Public Relations.

Bottom Line: Blogging still deserves a place in PR and marketing strategies. Despite the recent rise of social media, blogs continue to offer key advantages over other venues.